Lincoln – Sunday, July 16, 2023, marked the one-year anniversary of 988, the new three-digit suicide prevention line. 988 provides a direct connection to trained, compassionate, accessible care and support for anyone experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health-related crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. 988 is available 24/7 and is a free service available to anyone experiencing a mental health-related crisis.
“988 is a vital resource in Nebraska and across our nation,” said Tony Green, Interim Director of the Division of Behavioral Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “It is important to remember that no matter your situation, you are not alone, and that help is available and effective.”
There are three key pillars regarding 988; someone to call, someone to respond, and somewhere to go.
Someone to Call: Before the implementation of 988 in July of 2022, the Boys Town National Hotline (BT) in Omaha was the call center for the Suicide Prevention Hotline. It seemed natural to enhance the partnership with BT when Nebraska took on the implementation of 988. BT is now the call center for the Nebraska Family Helpline as well as 988. These trained crisis counselors assess safety, de-escalate crises, triage and create a safety plan, provide referrals and resources, and activate the Mobile Crisis Response Team when appropriate. They also cross-train the crisis counselors on both lines to provide consistency for individuals and families utilizing both the Nebraska Family Helpline and 988. During the calendar year 2021, BT received 8,777 calls to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Since July 16, 2022, through June 30, 2023, 988 Nebraska has received 18,300 calls, which is 2.08 times the number of calls to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The average answer rate is 95.53%, which exceeds the initial goal of 90% in the implementation plan. The average chat answer rate is 88.5% and the average text answer rate is 88.3% which both exceed the goal of 80% in the implementation plan.
Someone to Respond: Over 96.3% of calls received from the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline are being de-escalated and managed by the Boys Town crisis counselors without activating the Mobile Crisis Response Team. When appropriate, callers have the option to choose to engage with the Mobile Crisis Response Team. Calls resulting in the activation of the Mobile Crisis Response Team is 0.67%. Mobile Crisis is available across the state of Nebraska and can be used in person, via telehealth, or over the phone based on the individual’s comfort level. Even with the variety of methods to receive this crisis care, approximately 50% of individuals are choosing an in-person response. Just over three percent (3.03%) of calls have resulted in the need to activate emergency services such as emergency medical services and/or law enforcement. Emergency interventions occur when a caller is deemed unsafe (a danger to self or others), has access to lethal means, and is not willing to safety plan or involve anyone who can help maintain safety.
Somewhere to Go: It is vital to continue to develop crisis-receiving and stabilization services across the state. It starts with expanding community based-services such as same-day or next-day assessment (outpatient or medication management), mental health and substance use crisis respite for youth and adults, and peer-run hospital diversion and crisis respite.
DHHS was awarded the 2023 Transformation Transfer Initiative (TTI) through the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) with a focus on workforce development. The goal of this grant is to develop training for crisis response team members to ensure they have the best tools and skills needed to assist individuals in a crisis.
There will be a focus in the upcoming year of increasing marketing efforts to spread the word about 988. We need your help, please share information about 988 with your colleagues, friends, and family, post 988 information on your website or in your offices and lobbies, and hand out 988 wallet cards. You can find these materials on our 988 Nebraska website: https://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/988.
Need to talk or get immediate help in a crisis? Help is available. If you or a loved one need assistance, please reach out to:
- The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline; call, text, or chat 988
- Your faith-based leader, healthcare professional, or student health center on campus.
- Nebraska Family Helpline – Any question, any time. (888) 866-8660
- Rural Response Hotline, (800) 464-0258
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 (oprime dos para Español) or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)